So the thing that started this spurt of mini review was that my former favorite running pack – the Nathan VaporMag – ripped at a seam substantially enough that I lost my favorite pair of cold weather arm warmer (which I sadly can’t replace).
Nathan has awesome customer service and promptly replaced my ripped pack with a new a one. Unfortunately the VaporMag has been discontinued, so they sent me the closest thing – the VaporHowe 2.0 4L.
I’m going to upfront about my overall opinion – I hate it. It will be going to my good friend who loves the VaporHowe line. That being said there were some good things about it too.
Really the only thing I didn’t like about the VaporMag was the lack of a place to store my poles. The VaporHowe has two times the capacity and still NO PLACE FOR POLES. Also, with the added capacity you’d hope at least one back pocket would be reachable while wearing. Instead they are all deep pockets that just layer outward on each other, with the outer most pocket being a vertical zip. To get anything out the whole pack must come off.
The VaporMag upper back pocket is just open (and no nothing ever fell out). The VaporHowe uses velcro closures. The closures are nice but velcro and long hair don’t mix. My hair was constantly catching on the velcro and geting pulled out.
The VaporMag is a super breathable mesh. The VaporHowe is the compressive stretchy material. This material is super soft, but also super hot and not breathable at all.
The fit isn’t great either. While the size was correct and the pack sat appropriately on my body, the straps made it too tight. Full I couldn’t even buckle the bottom strap without inhibiting my breathing and one strap equaled lots of bounce. The new straps aren’t stretchy (in theory the fabric of the whole pack is supposed to stretch with your body’s movements).
Ok so what did I like?
The one thing I really liked about the pack was the big pocket for a phone up front. It is underneath one of the water bottles and more than fit my iPhone X in it’s case. This pocket is rater resistance line ONLY on the water bottle side, not the side against the body, so sweat is still a big issue here.
The bottles are 20 oz (600 mL) each which is double that of the VaporMag. They also have a spine to help them not collapse (all of Nathan’s soft bottles do!). These bottles also have the straight straw. The straight straw is much easier to clean than the angles one. However, with how the pack sits I kept getting hit in the face by them. The water bottle on the side without the phone pocket bounced a lot once it wasn’t completely full, something with the difference in structure failed to fully support the water bottle. These bottles actually fit my VaporMag and really old Solomon Adv Skin 12 Set better than they fit in the VaporHowe, so they will still get used. (Hopefully they work with my new packs I’m testing as well – stay tuned.)
Above Left to Right VaporHowe Bottles and VaporMag Bottles. Note the round bottomed VaporMag bottles actually can stand up full on their own which is pretty awesome. The VaporHowe bottles cannot.
It has a nice little pill pocket with an emergency whistle – unfortunately I lost everything I put in the pocket as is has no closure.
The pack is compatible with a 1.5L hydration bladder and comes with a magnet clip.
The pack comes in colors other than pink. In fact they sent me a blue one. And it has reflective materials/printing on front and back.
If you’d like to try it for yourself you can get it here (or probably your local running store).
Stay tuned for more reviews as I find my new running favorites. Next up the Topo Runventure 3 shoes.